procrastinationA client had a challenge at work and it could only be fixed by having what was likely going to be a an uncomfortable conversation. While he knew it had to be addressed, he’d been putting it off longer than he liked.

Sounds normal. When you have to do something unpleasant, the natural inclination is often to put it off.  But my client figured something out.  He realized that he was putting it off in the hope that he’d figure out a way to make it easier.  Brilliant observation – and also, he admitted, highly unlikely.

When you procrastinate, maybe your expectations isn’t so optimistic thinking the task will eventually be “easy.” Perhaps you just want it to be less hideous, or uncomfortable, or boring, or time-consuming.

But if that thing will continue to be hideous, uncomfortable, boring or time-consuming, here are some ways to forge ahead in spite of that…

  • Be prepared – Particularly in the case of an uncomfortable conversation, think through what you want to say and how you want to say it. Practicing ahead of time will help relieve some anxiety and help you prepare to keep your emotions in check.
  • Hire out – For some tasks it may be a better use of your time to hire someone else.  Taxes, data entry, housekeeping, website updates, blog posts (for non-writers) are some delegate-able tasks that come to mind.  While some folks may feel they don’t have the budget, it may end up paying for itself if the time saved is used to generate revenue.
  • Delegate – Many businesspeople who have staff support available may not delegate enough.  True, sometimes it can take longer to train someone the first time than it would to do it yourself, but it’s a time saver in the long run. If you’re in the enviable position of having some support – learn to use their talents to help you.
  • Collaborate – Find someone who does that thing well and ask for some tips.  Maybe she has methods that would in fact make it easier for you, too.
  • Get an accountability partner – If you just have to do it and there’s no way around it, get an accountability partner and commit to them when you will have accomplished the dreaded task.  It’s motivating to know that someone else is expecting you to follow through.  I often serve in this capacityfor my clients.

3 Comments

  1. Marsia on March 29, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I can totally relate to the putting it off in the hopes it will get easier. Thank you for the suggestions on forging ahead I love the accountability partner idea.



  2. Mary Kutheis (kooth-ice) on March 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I can relate, too, Marsia. And you’re most welcome for the suggestions!



  3. Shelby Blanchard Stogner on April 4, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    There’s some great perspective in this post! I think several of your solutions point to issues with “shoulds” – we feel like we “should” do it ourselves (instead of hiring out or delegating the work), we “should” be able to figure it out on our own (instead of asking for advice or getting an accountability partner), we “should” do something the best way (instead of finding a way that works for our own personality or work style). Thanks for the reminders to help move past the “shoulds” and into getting things done!